Hertford is the county town of Hertfordshire, England, and is also a civil parish in the East Hertfordshire district of the county. The earliest reference to the town appears in the Ecclesiastical History of the English People, written by Bede in 731 AD, which refers to Herutford. The Domesday Book of 1086 gives a spelling of Hertforde. Hertford has been the county town of Hertfordshire since Saxon times when it was governed by the king's reeves. Since 1974, Hertford has been within the East Hertfordshire district of Hertfordshire. The headquarters of Hertfordshire County Council is at County Hall in Hertford. East Herts District Council's offices almost adjoin County Hall, and there is also a Hertford Town Council based at Hertford Castle.
The town centre still has its medieval layout with many timber-framed buildings hidden under later frontages, particularly in St Andrew Street. The town retains very much a country-town feel, despite lying only 19.2 miles (30.9 km) north of Central London. This is aided by its proximity to larger towns such as Harlow, Bishop's Stortford and Stevenage where modern development has been focused.
A fair amount of employment in the town is centred on County Hall (Hertfordshire County Council), Wallfields (East Hertfordshire District Council) and McMullens Brewery, one of a dwindling number of independent pre-1970 family brewers in the United Kingdom. Many residents commute to work in London.
Hertford differs from neighbouring towns as it lacks a modern shopping development However, it has most of the usual supermarkets. A Tesco store occupies part of the former Christ's Hospital Bluecoat Girls School. Sainsbury's has a store on part of the McMullens Brewery site. There are fewer of the usual chain shops found in most high streets and this makes Hertford stand out from other "clone towns". There are a high number of independent shops in the town, with a variety of boutiques and salons.
Hertford has a population of over 28,690 people.